For 30+ years Bob and I have worked with thousands of couples to effectively manage conflicts on a myriad of issues. Politics was never one of them. Until now…
Since the 2016 election, the polarity and division that has been sown in our country is astounding, unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes. Americans have created two sides, red and blue, conservative and liberal, Republican and Democrat. Stereotypes abound. Each group believes their side is right, which makes the other side wrong. Instead of being able to talk about issues, hear and consider each other’s points of view civilly, a stone wall has been constructed.
This way of handling conflict goes against everything we teach couples. We talk about not creating sides, not stereotyping the other, not having a right-wrong mindset. We teach people to listen to each other’s points of view, make the other person’s case even if you don’t agree with it, understand that everyone’s “right” from their view.
In relationships, when one partner is a Democrat and the other Republican, conflicts can easily occur and escalate quickly. Partners get stuck on their individual sides, stereotype each other, try to prove they are right, and stop listening.
Here are 5 ways to stop your political differences from ruining your relationship:
1) Chose to be on the side of your marriage.
Acknowledge that you can have and accept your partner’s different beliefs. There are many issues couples disagree about. Presidents last four or eight years, but marriages are for a lifetime. Ask yourself, how important will this issue be – in a year, in 5 years, in 20 years.
2) Remember, if one of you wins, the other loses.
Win-lose doesn’t work in marriage. Each of us has a right to our opinions, thoughts and feelings, even when you disagree. The reality in relationships is that there are many differences between couples. That’s okay as long as you don’t make each other wrong.
3) Listen to your partner’s point of view.
Take the time and energy to hear your partner’s opinions. Put your views on a shelf for a bit and really try to understand each other, even if no one’s mind changes. Giving each other the respect of calmly listening will go a long way.
4) Find and focus on issues where you agree.
Chances are you both want a strong economy, healthcare, and national security. Stick to the issues where you agree.
5) If all else fails, agree to disagree and don’t talk about it.
It’s not often a therapist suggests a strategy of “not talking,” but this is one area where that may be necessary. Find your own like-minded friends and talk to them. When the election is over, your differences will calm down.
If you need help with this or any other differences, call us now. We are here to support you in your relationship journey.
If you and your partner have drifted apart, call us. We are doing online therapy for Individuals and Couples. Call 410-363-2825 or email us now if your relationship is struggling.
Photo credit Gema Ibarra